The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Project Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Bipartisanship – Topped with Cheese and Baked at 350, for About 45 Minutes

2013 April 22

by Ben Raker

We here at Project Vote Smart often lament the lack of civility in Congress and in state legislatures across this nation. These days, it seems like nothing can get Democrats and Republicans in the same room. At least nothing that isn't cheesy and baked.

No, we're not referring to cheesy platitudes or half baked policy proposals, we're talking about the annual Minnesota delegation “Hot Dish Off”. Rep. Keith Ellison, co-chair of the Progressive caucus, and Rep. Michelle Bachmann, chairman of the Tea Party caucus, might not agree on a whole lot. But they're willing to set aside those differences once a year in the name of a time honored (three years old) tradition that highlights an important part of Minnesota culture and cuisine.

For those of you east of the Mississippi, or west of, say, the Rockies, or really just not from Minnesota – a hotdish is a casserole. Wikipedia makes the important distinction that these special casseroles “typically [contain] a starch, a meat or other protein, and a canned and/or frozen vegetable, mixed with canned soup.” You know, to differentiate them from all the other casseroles out there. These dishes are a big deal in Minnesota, with different specialties by region, and fiercely guarded recipes . Rep. Tim Walz, who won this years competition with his “Herman the German” recipe underlined the importance of hot dish in Minnesota society. As he explained to the Star Tribune, “This is bragging rights in Minnesota. The hotdish (sic?) is serious business ...

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